Penelope's Song

Album: An Ancient Muse (2006)


  • In Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, Penelope was the faithful wife of Odysseus, King of the ancient city of Ithaca. Shortly after his son Telemachus was born, Odysseus went off to fight the Trojan War, a pastime which together with his other well known adventures and misadventures, kept him away for 20 years.

    With her husband absent for so long, many a woman would have given in to temptation, especially in an age before modern communications when he could reasonably have been presumed dead, if not in the war itself, then lost at sea. But not Penelope! An alluring prize for any man about town - a beautiful widow and a queen into the bargain - she kept her suitors at bay for three years with an original ruse. When at last her husband returned, he did so disguised as an elderly beggar, and discovered - no doubt to his delight - that she had remained faithful all these years.

    In English, the word odyssey has become synonymous with an epic journey; Penelope's name has not been similarly adapted, but it has become synonymous with the faithful woman.
  • Although Loreena McKennitt is as much a classical scholar as a musician, and "Penelope's Song" was directly inspired by a visit to the Greek island of Chios, it has a more universal meaning. As the lady herself explained: "I wanted to create a song from the perspective of the individual or individuals that were left behind. And it is a story that certainly is universal in its theme, that when I think of some of Irish history and the time during the famine, and there were people that immigrated to, let's say, Canada or the United States on these horrible coffin ships. And that there were families that were also left behind and their loved ones would be heading over to the New World. And you can't help but think of those, there have been people who have left their loved ones for all kinds of circumstances. And the pain of seeing them go off andw not knowing if they'll ever return. So I wanted to create a song that captured some essence of that sentiment, of waiting for your loved ones to return."
  • "Penelope's Song" was recorded live with a full orchestra, and the composer at the piano; running to 4 minutes 21 seconds, it was dedicated to the memory of Captain Shawn McCaughey, a Canadian pilot who was killed when his plane crashed on May 18, 2007. Three weeks later he was due to be married. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above

Comments: 1

  • Leslie from Morehead, KyI absolutely love "Penelope's Song". It reminds me so much of my son, since we have been separated from each other for years. But he is coming to me this Summer (2013) and we can hardly wait.Until then, we have "Penelope's Song". Both of our heats can sing with Loreena when she sings, "I'll keep your heart with mine, until you come to me."
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